A four year project that seeks to combat gender-based violence in six districts has concluded with facilitators reporting several challenges that require further attention and support to curb.
The project dubbed “Claiming sexual and reproductive Health right in Rwanda” has been running in 6 districts including Huye, Muhanga, Ruhango, and Kamonyi, Rubavu and Nyabihu districts.
The project has been running from 2017 through 2022, and was concluded on February 9 with presentation of achievements.
The project was conducted by Rwanda Interfaith Council on Health, a local network of Religious Organizations in collaboration with Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) and Oxfam.
Also partner in this project is Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), among others and was funded by Scottish government through Oxfam, a non-governmental organization that supports country’s development efforts through implementing humanitarian response.
For the period of 4 years, 995 families that were in constant conflict were reunited through constructive local dialogues to restore ‘healthy relationships.’
The community dialogues were conducted in collaboration with local leaders and local religious leaders, engaging the discussions through home visits.
According to Oxfam, there has been an increase in community awareness on Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) prevention by changing society attitudes and beliefs that fuel GBV through campaigns.
The campaigns were conducted in radio and television talk shows, bulk SMS and live community meetings.
“The sensitization was done in communities; over 2,530 community mobilizers were trained to work as agents of change. The SGBV cases decreased in these districts and reporting of these cases to Isange One stop center has increased. Having peaceful families, and communities in the country is essential for the social-economic development of the country,” Antoine Cardinal Kambanda, Chairperson of Rwanda Interfaith Council on Health said.
“Preventing family conflicts is everyone’s responsibility irrespective of religion. A lot has been achieved by this just concluded project. But, a lot still needs to be done, especially in the districts which did not benefit from the project,” Cardinal Kambanda said.
According to Oxfam, men and boys were engaged in prevention of SGBV through ‘MenEngage’ approach which included meetings and training sessions.
The project also led to the establishment of 144 health workers and RIB officers working at the six district hospitals.
Other achievements include 247 hospital staff who received coaching and mentorship skills in prevention of SGBV cases. Another 1020 GBV victims aged 16-24 years old were also trained in GBV prevention, creation and management of small income generating activities.
A total of 370 vulnerable GBV victims were also supported to do vocational courses and to establish small income generating activities. They were provided with startup kits and capital, according to Oxfam.
“Through meetings and home visits, the project helped parents and guardians of GBV victims, especially teen mothers to regain trust in their children and are now supporting them in their social-economic reintegration,” Immaculee Mukampabuka, Country Director of Oxfam said.
According to Mukampabuka, most of the GBV victims who were trained and supported by the project are now educators of their peers and are part of community mobilisers for the prevention of GBV and teenage pregnancies by sharing their experience.
“Success stories of the project participants have been documented to inspire other youth in similar situations,” she added.’
According to Rwanda Interfaith Council, 1000 SGBV victims were trained on topics including prevention and healing of the victims while 370 victims were supported through vocational training in six districts.
Despite the efforts, RIB indicates that GBV cases persist in the country.
Available figures indicate that RIB received 10, 842 GBV related crimes in the last fiscal year-2019/2020 with the highest rate of these cases being child defilement, assault and domestic abuse.
“It is our responsibility; churches and other religious groups teach new couples about having a peaceful family. This will be a good foundation of having peaceful and steady families,” Prof. Jeannette Bayisenge, Minister of Gender and Family promotion said.
“A good performance has been registered to encounter SGBV and other forms of violence, but it is now the beginning, more efforts are needed. Let’s build a family free of Gender Based Violence.”